How to Use Automated Lead Generation to Grow Your Business

In today’s technology-driven business world, speed is everything. Just as the internet has changed the pace of communications, it has also irrevocably altered the way we do business.
Gone are the days of pounding the streets to generate leads or cold calling endless lists of potential clients.

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Digital Marketing for the Older Generation: ROI

I remember a time when the older generation was totally against the new iPhone; the flip phone was good enough, and life was good! Nowadays, an average grandmother is looking at her Facebook posts and texting away, as if she’s been doing it all of her life. I guess the point I’m trying to make is that the technology is getting faster, faster, and digital marketing is no different. The older generation, and by that I mean folks over 40, is having a tough time grasping all the intricacies of digital marketing. In the old (marketing) days, it was simple to sell a billboard, tell somebody how many cars are passing underneath, and give him or her a price. You may track the phone number, but that’s about it. Today, there are so many variables available; it’s very difficult for a successful business person over forty to understand the intricacies of a very complex digital marketing campaign. Marketing fundamentals have never changed – it’s all about understanding the customer and putting out the right message. Unfortunately, confusion reigns concerning the amount of information being thrown at an average marketer, and, by extension, to the actual business person he or she serves. The question is this: how does a successful business person over 40 truly understand the ROI behind the marketing dollar?

 

Okay, okay, I get it – everybody is talking about ROI, claiming that they can justify it; however, in reality, they provide you with some white-labeled dashboards, sprinkled with some Google Analytics, expecting you to be agog over the fact that you’re getting increased traffic from Texas. Of course, I am oversimplifying things, but you get the picture….

 

The fundamentals have not changed; you need to be able to track your marketing activities and to marry them with your internal processes, such as sales and operations. Unfortunately, many customers are not willing to open up their internal environments for us to track the actual journey of the marketing dollar. It’s hard for us to justify the ROI with one arm tied behind our back.

 

Maybe it’s our fault for not completely communicating what it actually means to understand the ROI. For example, Google Analytics can be such a massive disruption by providing out of the box basic web analysis and lulling the marketing novice into a false sense of marketing superiority. What we found effective are baby steps, leading to a gradual “Aha moment”, which can take a long time and a lot of frustration.   That is unfortunate because it could be so much smoother if we were able to educate customers better on the fundamentals of digital marketing. The problem is that digital marketing is not like riding a bike. It’s like riding a unicycle today, a tricycle tomorrow, and a BMW motorcycle two years from now. We talk about KPIs; we talk about goals; we talk about ROI; we use all the acronyms in our vast acronym portfolio; however, in reality, every customer is different, and every customer demands the best.

To complicate things further, not every customer is prepared to commit the internal resources required to support a successful digital marketing campaign. Sometimes, the folks are just so busy and overworked that for them to learn something new or something different is very difficult. It does not mean that they are stupid or ignorant or lazy: they are just simply overworked! We marketers try to do the best to educate them, but it’s an uphill battle. This breeds confusion, miscommunication, and mistrust; I can understand why they could be so apprehensive. Type “Digital Marketing” into your browser and look at the results: companies that claim to be the best, all doing the same thing. In the end, you need to go with the agency that truly understands your business and has real business people at the helm – because the fundamentals have not changed; only the way you approach them has.

Advertising Week 2015

advertising week

Advertising Week 2015 has come and gone, so what did we learn? Here are the 3 of the major topics:

  1. Adblocking is here and no one has the solution…yet. With Advertising Week being so soon after the release of many adblocking apps on iPhones, the topic came up a lot. In the end, the best solution found: be creative.
  2. Video advertising has become incredibly popular. Almost every panel began with a video advertisement, proving that video advertisements are around. While this trend is useful for brands, soon it may become over saturated and consumers will begin to ignore them. Guess it’s almost time to start looking for the next big advertising trend.
  3. TV advertising IS still relevant. This is contrary to what many individuals have been lead to believe. At Advertising Week, it was proven that people are still watching TV, they’re just watching differently than they used to. TV viewers are usually connected to at least one other device (phone, laptop, tablet) while watching their shows. Due to that, they can either be distracted, requiring more effective attention-grabbers or they are interacting view social media at the same time. Either way, TV is still a large market for advertisers.

I wonder what Advertising Week 2016 will bring.

 

Facebook’s new ad viewability metric

Companies like Facebook have spent a lot of time trying to resolve the problem of ad viewability. Brands want to know that their ad is actually being viewed by consumers, not just scrolled past. Now, Facebook can see if a consumer spent more time looking at the ad than they typically would. If so, the consumer is more likely to remember the ad and take action. Facebook is trying to finalize this metric and utilize it as the new way to charge advertisers. Will this save advertisers money or cost them more?

Either way, at least they know their ads are being seen.

 

Step by Step Guide: Amazon Product Ads: Welcome To The Jungle.

Ask any  digital consumer in the US what the top 5 sites to purchase products online are. Go ahead. I bet Amazon.com one of those sites. Unsurprising as  Amazon has practical become a household name. It is an is an E-commerce powerhouse, that has made numerous in headlines in the past few months with their talks of drones, the rollout of the Amazon Dash buttons, and the increasing number of benefits from being a prime member. It is the 3rd most visited site in the US and 7th most visited globally with a staggering estimated 168 million unique visitors every month. The majority of people generally are aware of how big Aamazon is, however, what  many people don’t know is, Amazon offers a way to leverage its massive audience, thoughtout various Ad serving platforms.

There are two ways to advertise on Amazon. Which you use depends on your goals.

  • Do you already sell on Amazon? Then the Seller Central would be your best bet.
  • Do you want to direct traffic from Amazon to your site? Amazon Product Ads is the better choice then.

Today I am going to focus on the later of the two services, and give a beginners step-by-step guide on how to set up your own Amazon Product Ads. It is VERY simple PPC platform, which can leverage Amazon’s that massive audience, and insert your products in a powerful and unique bottom funnel way, when people are searching competitors or similar products.You will have ads up in no time by following these 6 Steps.

Step 1: Register An Amazon Sellers Account.

After you first go to Amazon, scroll down the very bottom of the home page. Under the “Make Money with Us” and click on Advertise Your Products.

Amazon Product Step 1

The link will lead you here. This is the Amazon services page. Here you can find FAQ’s, tutorials, reviews etc. a standard sales page. If you do not already have a sellers account just click the “Get Started Now” link and the fun begins.

Step 2: The Questionnaire 

Now, before the real magic happens, Amazon will ask you three simple questions. As you answer these questions, keep in mind Amazon Product Ads will only allow certain product categories to be advertise with this service. Anyone can advertise in the Baby, Computer, Electronics, Home/Home Improvement, and Musical Instruments, as well as Office, Pet Supplies, Sports, Toys or Wireless categories. It will also allow you to advertise in Apparel, Health and Beauty, Grocery, Shoes, and Watches categories; however it will require approval from the Amazon Gods.

Amazon Product Ads Qustionaire

 

If your product falls into any of those, you will be good to go! Just click the sing up now after answering the questions and we are off!

Step 3: Set Up The Actual Account

This is where you actually begin filling out your account information. It is straightforward so I am going to skip most of this, as it is simply plug and chug. If you are an agency, I suggest doing this under your client’s name. If you are a seller, use your account.

step 4

Once you get this all figures out, you will be dropped off at the Amazon Product Ads Dashboard.  I warn you, it is not much to look at, but do not let its simplicity discourage you.

 

Amazon Product Ads Dash

If you are familiar with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Adwords… this dashboard is nothing like them. What you see here is what you get. Do not let how basic this is scare you away. Again, getting your products in front of this massive audience searching for similar products can have a great ROI.

Step 4: Upload Your Product Catalog

 

(4.1)

This is where things can get a little tricky. You need to upload the inventory you want to advertise from your website, but it only accepts certain file formats. Thankfully, Amazon has a very simple template that will generate the necessary file for you. To get started click “Upload your Products” to get started.

Amazon-Product-ads-Upload

(4.2)

This new window will give you a couple options of what to do. If you are familiar with Google or Yahoo selling, you should already have the required files. If you have the necessary file listed in the drop down menu (as seen below), just select the type of file you have and click “Upload Now”. If not, move on to the next step.

(4.3)

As I said, Amazon Product Ads will only accept a few files. Luckily, Amazon provides an easy-to-use template that will generate the file format Amazon Product Ads will accept and will upload the products you want to advertise. Just hit “Download Template”

dl temp

(4.4)

A window will pop open. Click the “Amazon.com Product Ads tab delimited file (.txt)” link.

Dl temp1

(4.5)

This new window is the Product Ads Feedbuilder. This will generate the code needed to make your product scroll. Hit the “Add Item”.
Amazon Ads Feed Builder Ad Item

(4.6)

On this next window, you can narrow or broaden the details on your products as much as you like. For the purposes of this beginners guide, we will stick to the required fields. As an Example, let us say you are selling a Taco Truck Taco Holder, like this:

81BSP7vMqVL._SL1500_
A rather unique product, right? No worries, just type the category you believe would be appropriate. For this taco truck, I believe it would best fit under Home & Kitchen category. Begin typing and results will flood the feed.

Amazon Product Ads Categories

(4.7)

As you can see, there are hundreds of sub categories. Consider which one would best represent what you are selling. Here some competitor research can come into play. I selected “Kitchen Utensils & Gadgets/Tools & Gadget Sets.” Once you find the category you like, next comes what little creative and optimization you can do.

Amazon Product Ads Feed Creative

 

Things to keep in mind here: no special characters like “&” or “!”. Keep things simple. Straight to the point.

 

(4.8)

Once you finish these field hit Add item. You can add as many products as you like. When done, click “Generate Feed” at top right and save the ProductAdsFeed to your desktop. Go back to the Add Products via Upload page. Select Amazon Product Ads tab-delimited file from the drop down menu, click “Choose File” and select the file you just saved hit the “Upload now” button.

upload now

Congrats that was the hardest part of this whole process. Its all pretty streamlined from here on out.

Step 5: Set Your Budget

Go back to the Product ads. You can check your listing by going to the Manage Inventory section of the dashboard. The next step in the process is to set your daily budget. Figure out what you are willing to spend day-to-day on your advertising. This will require some math because there is no Lifetime feature like on some other platforms. So simply divide your total monthly budget by how many days there are in that month and enter it into the field.

daily budget

Insert whatever your daily budget would come down to, and then hit update.

Step 6: Set Your Bids

Bare with me this is the LAST step.
Back on the dashboard. Hit the “Set Your Bids” button and the Bids manger will open. Instead of clicking through each and every category again, at the top select the “only Categories I have products in” button. This will filter out all the other unrelated classifications.

Here you have the option of setting the Minimum CPC or the Suggested CPC. There is not too much that you can do here, so the best practice will be to set it to the suggested bid, and let it ride. You can increase the suggested bids by specific percentages if you want. But that is the limit of the optimization you can do.

Amazon Product Ads Bids

And that is it! After you hit the “Save changes” button, your ads will be added to the Amazon Product Ads rotation.

What About Optimization?

Amazon currently does not allow for too much in this way. There are a few things to help get the most of your ad dollars. Here are a few suggestions:

•Split test in different categories. There are hundreds out there and if your ads are under performing, maybe try a new category. Need information on A/B testing? We have you covered.
• Use every field in the feeds generation. The more specific your ad is the better.
• Only use your top 10-15 bestselling and/or most profitable products. Utilize your wow factor. This will draw the traffic to your site, and make sure you maintain a healthy ROI.
• You CAN adjust your bid, but it is something you have to play around with for each category.

With Amazon, what you see is what you get; nonetheless, this is a very effective platform for bottom funnel sales. At this point in Amazon Product ads, Amazon determines everything all down to the placement of ads. For more information on that, you can Click Here to learn more.

 

4 Ways To Utilize March Madness In Your Social Media Campaigns

The madness of this year’s NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball has been great so far! Have you found a way to utilize one of the biggest events in our nation into your digital media campaign? If not- you’re in luck! I’ve compiled a list of 4 ways you can utilize March Madness to help boost engagement with your brand on social media.

Why March Madness?

Contrary to what you might think, online searches for March Madness start as early as January and last all throughout April. This is because before the tournament starts, fans are constantly checking online to see which teams will make it into the Big Dance and those searches will increase with Selection Sunday. Obviously throughout the tournament people will be searching for scores, live action and where they can find the game. Once the final game is over, the interest dwindles down as people switch to searching about freshman recruiting and the NBA draft. Fans will also be flocking to their social media feeds and search engines every time a big upset or game changer happens; all the way from the time of tip-off to the final buzzer. With this large of a captive audience it’s almost a no brainer to integrate some type of March Madness content into your digital media campaigns. The NCAA Tournament will be dominating social media feeds, televisions and everyday conversations.

What Can You Do?

Not sure how to include March Madness in your brand’s editorial calendar? Here are a few ideas:

1. Contest

Contests are the #1 way to increase engagement and collect information from your audience. Lucky enough to score a pair of tickets to the big game? Create a ticket giveaway where you ask people to follow your brand and give their email addresses. Don’t have tickets to give away? One of the most common contests during March Madness are bracket challenges. Ask customers to fill out their best tournament predictions and pick a winner who has the most correct bracket!

Crown Liquors is giving away 2 tickets to the final game through a Facebook contest.

Crown Liquors is giving away 2 tickets to the final game through a Facebook contest.


2. Hometown Hero

Give the local teams who made it to the Big Dance a shoutout on all your digital media platforms. Be sure to tag the team and student section in all posts to increase engagement. Follow the team throughout the tournament and post live updates on your social media platforms. This will give you major brownie points in community management.

Hopcat restaurant and bar in Broad Ripple shows love to the Butler basketball team.

Hopcat restaurant and bar in Broad Ripple shows love to the Butler basketball team.


3. #MarchMadness

One of the simplest ways to engage with those talking about the NCAA Tournament is to use the appropriate hashtag on all social media platforms including but not limited to Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Here are a few of the most popular ones:

#MarchMadness
#NCAA
#bracketology
#BigDance
#FinalFour
#Sweet16

Current trending topics and hashtags.

Current trending topics and hashtags.


These are just some of the most popular hashtags, but if you are looking to be a little more creative, check these out or even try to come up with your own hashtag that relates to your brand.

4. Special Offers & Deals

During the tournament get more people in the door with special offers and deals that you announce on social media. How about free appetizers when your team wins? People love to go out and watch the game with friends, so if your brand is one of those places people can watch the game at be sure you are attracting them on social media. You can also offer social media specific deals throughout the tournament to increase sales and engagement.

Scotty's Brewhouse sent out an email offering $5 growler fills when a #1-#4 loses.

Scotty’s Brewhouse sent out an email offering $5 growler fills when a #1-#4 loses.


Incorporating March Madness can help increase engagement for almost any brand or business. The best part is figuring out all the creative ways you can make the event coincide with your brand. I’m lucky enough to live where the Final 4 takes place, so I am certainly excited to see how brands engage on social media during the Big Dance!

Need help advertising your brand during March Madness? Contact us today!

How Social Media Changed The Way Presidents Disseminate Information

With millions and millions of social followers, POTUS can disseminate information a lot easier.

So a little fact about myself before I dive into this blog – I love the TV show The West Wing. Yes, I know, it stopped airing in 2005 but Netflix is like a drug. I’m not super political and as a quick disclaimer, this blog post will also not be political. With President’s Day occurring earlier this week, I felt it would be appropriate to talk about how the Internet and social media changed the ways in which the President and his staff disseminate information.

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How Demographic Targeting can Help and Hinder Ads

We all know that location matters when ad targeting. Interests matter. These things we believe to be self evident. But what about targeting ads by age, or gender or even race or ethnicity? There are times where it can help a campaign, but there are also times where making assumptions about a certain demographic can put roadblocks in your path toward better engagement and better conversions.

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Is it worthwhile to advertise on Pandora or Spotify?

Pandora, Spotify and other music services are the wave of the future for music listening. MP3 purchases and CDs are way down in sales, as the public at large moves toward services that will stream their favorite music for a low monthly fee. It doesn’t matter for many that you don’t own the tracks, if you can access a radio station that plays them frequently (in Pandora’s case), or has access to any songs at any time (in Spotify’s case).

As of this article’s publication, Pandora boasts 76.5 million users and Spotify 60 million users. The massive popularity of both music services, and the fact that the large majority of users opt for the free, ad-driven version of the service, means that advertising there can make a lot of sense. Let’s look at what’s involved in an audio ad and whether it’s worthwhile to advertise this way.

  1. Professional Recording
    Unlike a text or graphical ad, the ads on Pandora and Spotify are audio. In some cases, there’s a graphical popup element for the phone app, so there may yet be some text / graphic design element to the ad. For the most part, it’s audio. This is something you’re not going to want to have someone in the office record on their iPhone.A good audio ad is professionally recorded in a sound studio by a trained voice actor, is attention-grabbing and witty, doesn’t apologize for interrupting the music, and gets to the point early in the time alloted.
  2. The Ad Script
    You’re going to want to write a dialogue script and read it aloud to make sure it sounds natural. Like with any other ad, be sure there’s a call to action, such as a coupon code or an easy-to-remember URL. Again, if there’s a graphical pop-up ad in the music app’s user interface that the user can click on, be sure to integrate these well in the planning and scripting process.
  3. Ad Rates
    Both Spotify and Pandora have ad rates that are not public until you get in touch with them, likely because they fluctuate often due to the surging popularity of streaming music services. However, both ad departments are easy to get in touch with with ad rates, specifications, ad standards, minimum buys and so on. It’s going to be somewhat pricey — especially compared to a typical social media ad on another platform.
  4. Not Just Audio
    Pandora has dozens of different ad configurations that stretch beyond audio ads, to animated overlays to banners to custom mixtapes. Agencies that really like to think outside the box will find a lot to play with here.Spotify also has just introduced video ads to go along with their traditional audio ads, and these join their many other ad formats, such as watching a video to get 30 minutes of ad-free listening, display ads and even homepage takeover ads.
  5. Should I?
    Advertising on a music service is a way to reach a connected, music-loving audience in a hyper-focused way that might not be possible on another platform. That bears repeating: Listeners on Spotify and Pandora are music fans first, so if your product makes sense to that kind of person, then give it a try.

To explore out-of-the-box thinking with advertising your product or service, contact StrataBlue today.

Case Study: Restaurant Grand Opening

Creating Buzz in the Community and Building an Email List for Restaurant Opening

At StrataBlue, we work with lots of restaurants. And when it comes to the recipe for a new restaurant’s opening, creating buzz via social media and using email to acquire and communicate with customers are key ingredients it the success.

Problem

The proprietors of a new restaurant came to us just four months prior to their targeted open date. They didn’t have a logo, let alone a website. They were still planning the menu. And even though they’d signed up for social media profiles, they had no branding or content up.

  • Our Challenge: How do you create word of mouth and buzz when the restaurant is still months away from opening?

Our StrataBlue team made it our mission to aim for massive, targeted reach and to build and educate an audience that included local foodies and social media influencers, who could help us serve up the maximum amount of online reach and digital buzz.

CS3

Solution

Cooking up the Foundation:

While the eventual goal was to grow a social media following, generate and amplify buzz, and build a foundational email list, we had a lot of work ahead of us before we could begin posting content and amplifying it throughout the social sphere. Our graphic design and social teams worked hand in hand with the restaurant proprietors to create the overall voice they wanted to convey through their branding and digital presence.

Our graphics team started from scratch to design the following:

  • logo
  • website
  • branding materials
  • menu design
  • social media profile branding (Facebook & Twitter)
  • social media display ads (Facebook & Twitter)
  • email marketing templates

 

 

Meanwhile, the social media team worked to set up and brand the following digital channels:

  • Facebook Page
  • Twitter Profile
  • Instagram Accounts
  • Email Marketing Account

Digital Buzz Building:

StrataBlue took care of the social media before the restaurant was open for business, so this created a fantastic opportunity for us to tell the story right from the start about the development and vision. It also allowed us to involve the local community from the outset.

Our goals were to:

  • Announce the restaurant to the community and begin educating them about the concept, menu development, and plans for drink specialties and weekend entertainment.
  • Build a climate of anticipation around the launch.
  • Connect with the locals and foodies to create excitement and buzz within the foodie community.

Action Plan:

Even before the time came to open its doors with a promise of delicious food, StrataBlue ensured the restaurant was an aggressive user of social media channels to connect with potential patrons, and grow its digital footprint.

  • We began posting teasers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, cross-promoting content between the various platforms three months prior to a September opening date.
  • To increase the number of social media impressions, both Facebook and Twitter advertising were used to drive awareness, while connecting and engaging with more followers.
  • Appealing to a customer’s eyeballs is where Instagram came in, and we were able to show off what the restaurant would bring to the table (pun intended). We also used all social profiles to chronicle the evolution and construction of the restaurant, posting photos of both food and interior progress.
  • Socially shared and promoted content was also dedicated to staff Q&As, specialty cocktails that were planned, and entertainment acts that were being booked to perform.
  • While the website was being designed and built, we set up a landing page to announce that the new concept was coming. An embedded lead capture form was used to gather subscribers who wanted to be the first to know all the launch details, including opening week festivities.

Measurement & KPIs:

We defined KPIs to measure our performance, which we carefully measured over the course of the campaign:

  • KPI 1: Growth of the social following across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
  • KPI 2: Overall digital media impressions and reach
  • KPI 3: Email list subscriber growth
  • KPI 4: Increases in website traffic (the landing page went up two months prior to launch and
    the full website was launched several weeks before opening)

The restaurant’s grand opening was a massive success! During the first five months (three months prior to opening and two month after), the restaurant’s website received 49,000 visits by nearly 35,000 users, and the brand now has a database of 2,100 email address with which to send targeted e-newsletters.

Prior to opening night, Social Referral traffic and Direct traffic made up 19.14% and 25.33% of website sessions, respectively. After five months, the client was able to attribute nearly 10% of their website traffic to StrataBlue’s social media efforts. Direct website traffic, which demonstrates brand awareness and also includes some email and social media traffic, made up 21.43%.

The social media strategy achieved fantastic results within the first five months: 7,100+ Facebook Likes, nearly 1,250 Twitter Followers, and 960 Instagram fans actively engaging.

CS1

Overall, the multi-channel campaign drove well over 2.5 million digital media impressions across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Two months post-opening, the StrataBlue team continues to use social and digital marketing to generate traffic to both the client’s website and brick-and-mortar location. Business is booming!

Would you like to see what we can do for your new business? Get in contact with us today!